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A family separation can be an incredibly difficult time for adults, particularly when also dealing with their children’s emotions. It’s normal for children to feel unsettled if you’re going through separation or divorce. Children need a period of adjustment to come to terms with the changes in their family.
Speaking to a family lawyer is vital in order to facilitate a smooth transition for your children. Follow these other simple tips in order to help your children cope with your separation
1. Talk openly
If possible, both parents should plan how to tell their children about the marital separation, and deliver the news together. While it is important to be honest with children, it is also vital to keep their ages in mind when deciding how much information to tell them. While older children may ask for more information, younger children may become confused by too many details.
Having open conversations is important in order to reassure your children that they are still loved by both parents, and are not the cause of the separation. Explain that this is a problem between yourself and your former partner, and there was nothing your children could do to prevent it. Let your children express their feelings and concerns; accept they have a right to feel as they do and then offer comfort, affection, and show concern.
2. Keep routines
A separation can be a confusing time for young children, and can disrupt their ordinary schedules. For this reason it is important to keep normal routines where possible. Having stability in their routine can help children adjust to the changes within their home life.
Once living arrangements have been discussed, explain to your children where they will be living. If they will spend some time with each parent, explain how this will work in practical terms. This can alleviate any concerns, and provide a schedule for your children to follow. This helps children feel safer.
3. Speak positively
When around your children, it is important not to speak negatively about the other parent. Be polite when you are dropping off your children or picking them up, as this will help them cope with the transition. It is also important not to ask your children to deliver messages to the other parent. Your children should never act as a go-between, and should never be drawn into fights.
Your children may feel disloyal when they are spending time away from you. It is therefore important to be supportive of your children talking to, and spending time with the other parent. Showing interest in the time they spend with the other parent is vital to demonstrate your support of their relationship.
4. Provide support
It will take time for your child to adjust to these changes, and some may find the transition more difficult than others. There are many sources of support to help you and your children through this difficult time. If you feel as though your children are not coping, it is important to reach out for professional help.
Keep other important figures in your children’s life informed about the separation. This may include teachers, child care providers or sport coaches. Keeping these adults informed about the transition, means that they can watch for any warning signs that your child is not coping.
A family breakdown affects parents and children differently. The mental health and wellbeing of children is supported when families can work together, in order to enable a smooth transition. It will take time for your child to adjust to these changes. However, by following these tips and working with your former partner, you can ensure that your children will adjust to a family separation.
Laura Costello is a graduate of International Relations at Latrobe University.
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